The evolution of seafloor spreading behind the tip of the westward propagating Cocos-Nazca spreading center
Smith, Deborah K.
Schouten, Hans A.
Klein, Emily M.
Cann, Johnson R.
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KeywordGalapagos triple junction; mid‐ocean ridges; seafloor spreading; Galapagos microplate; plate boundaries
At the Galapagos triple junction in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, the Cocos‐Nazca spreading center does not meet the East Pacific Rise (EPR) but, instead, rifts into 0.4 Myr‐old lithosphere on the EPR flank. Westward propagation of Cocos‐Nazca spreading forms the V‐shaped Galapagos gore. Since ~1.4 Ma, opening at the active gore tip has been within the Cocos‐Galapagos microplate spreading regime. In this paper, bathymetry, magnetic, and gravity data collected over the first 400 km east of the gore tip are used to examine rifting of young lithosphere and transition to magmatic spreading segments. From inception, the axis shows structural segmentation consisting of rifted basins whose bounding faults eventually mark the gore edges. Rifting progresses to magmatic spreading over the first three segments (s1–s3), which open between Cocos‐Galapagos microplate at the presently slow rates of ~19–29 mm/year. Segments s4–s9 originated in the faster‐spreading (~48 mm/year) Cocos‐Nazca regime, and well‐defined magnetic anomalies and abyssal hill fabric close to the gore edges show the transition to full magmatic spreading was more rapid than at present time. Magnetic lineations show a 20% increase in the Cocos‐Nazca spreading rate after 1.1 Ma. The near‐axis Mantle Bouguer gravity anomaly decreases eastward and becomes more circular, suggesting mantle upwelling, increasing temperatures, and perhaps progression to a developed melt supply beneath segments. Westward propagation of individual Cocos‐Nazca segments is common with rates ranging between 12 and 54 mm/year. Segment lengths and lateral offsets between segments increase, in general, with distance from the tip of the gore.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 21(6), (2020): e2020GC008957, doi:10.1029/2020GC008957.
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Suggested CitationSmith, D. K., Schouten, H., Parnell-Turner, R., Klein, E. M., Cann, J., Dunham, C., Alodia, G., Blasco, I., Wernette, B., Zawadzki, D., Latypova, E., Afshar, S., & Curry, S. (2020). The evolution of seafloor spreading behind the tip of the westward propagating Cocos-Nazca spreading center. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 21(6), e2020GC008957.
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